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Department Issues FAWAC Advice to all Keepers/Owners of Horses, Ponies and Donkeys

Following advice received by the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council (FAWAC), the Department Agriculture, Food and the Marine advises horse owners to adhere to the legal requirement for all equines to be properly identified within six months of the date of birth of the animal or within the calendar year of the animal’s birth (whichever is the later). This requires equines born in 2014, prior to 1st July, to be identified by 31st December 2014.

If a horse is not identified within this time-frame it could lead to a significant cost to the owner in the future as unidentified horses are automatically and irrevocably excluded from slaughter for human consumption and disposal options for undocumented horses are limited and expensive. In this regard, the Department reminds owners to contact a relevant approved passport issuing organisation (PIO) to arrange for the timely identification of their horses.

Additionally the Council reiterates its advice for situations where an owner can no longer provide for or where the equine no longer fulfils the purpose for which it was bred, owners should be proactive in seeking to dispose of the animal before its welfare is compromised - including consideration of the option of humane disposal where the horse cannot be sold/transferred to another responsible owner. Such action will help prevent the emergence of long-term and severe animal welfare problems.

FAWAC continues to stress the importance of responsible breeding and responsible ownership. For more information please consult the FAWAC Animal Welfare Guidelines for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys available from the FAWAC website at

Note for Editors

The Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council comprises representatives from a wide range of stakeholder organisations including farming, veterinary and equine bodies and includes representatives from DARDNI, UCD, Teagasc and welfare bodies including the ISPCA. It is an advisory body to the Minister with its main purpose to identify ways in which the welfare of farm animals can be further improved and to prioritise areas requiring attention and consider ways of increasing public awareness relating to welfare of farm animals.

View this Press Release as a PDF: DAFMPR 191/2014 (pdf 95Kb) 

Date Released: 05 December 2014